THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM
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6.3 Shouts and Powers
The Nords have long practiced a unique, spiritual form of magic known as “The Way of the Voice”. Nords consider themselves to be the children of the sky, and the breath and the voice of a Nord is his vital essence.
Through the use of the Voice, this power can be articulated into a thu’um, or shout. Shouts can be used to sharpen blades, strike enemies at a distance, or command time itself to stand still.
Masters of the Voice are known as Tongues, and their power is legendary.
The most powerful Tongues cannot speak without causing destruction, and must remain gagged at all times, communicating through sign language and the scribing of runes.
The Words of Power used in Shouts are actual words from the ancient language of the Dragons-- for example, the Kyne’s Peace Shout invokes the Words for ‘Kyne’ ‘Peace’ ‘Trust’.
You will learn these Words in context from ancient inscriptions found on Word Walls throughout Skyrim. To learn more about the meaning behind these words, and to read translated versions of the inscriptions, see The Language of Dragons.
The Rule of Thu’um
A Shout is the utterance of one or more Words of Power in order to achieve a specific magical effect. Each Shout has a unique effect, such as summoning or commanding a creature, striking foes with a blast of force to stun or disarm them, or calling down a powerful lightning storm. These should be seen as powerful special abilities and used frequently; as the Dragonborn, you have an incredible gift that few heroes have ever possessed!
There are some important general points to remember regarding Shouts:
Each Shout consists of three Words of Power.
You will learn the vast majority of these Words by absorbing them, one at a time, from Word Walls found throughout Skyrim. A few Shouts are also taught to you during the Main Quest, mostly by the Greybeards of High Hrothgar. You always collect Words of Power in the order of the three-word final phrase, so it doesn’t matter which Word Wall you visit first.
After you learn a Word, you must unlock it, which requires a Dragon Soul. You can only obtain Dragon Souls by slaying dragons. Since the return of the dragons only begins in earnest after Main Quest: Dragon Rising, you must complete that quest in order to begin unlocking Words and using Shouts.
You need one Dragon Soul for each Word you want to unlock. You can begin using a Shout after learning and unlocking only its first Word, but each additional Word allows you to invoke a more powerful version of the Shout.
Do you know all three Words for five Shouts? Then you’ll need to slay and absorb the souls of fifteen dragons to fully unlock them all. That’s a tall order, so consider carefully which Shouts you really need, and spend your Dragon Souls wisely. For example, the Aura Whisper Shout (which tracks the movement of a foe) is great for an assassin, but is less useful for a berserker who simply charges into the fray.
Shouts can be added to your Favorites, making switching between them (and employing them for different situations) quick and easy.
Each Shout has up to three levels, corresponding to the Words of Power you’ve unlocked:
Level 1: Tap the button. One word. Exhale. This is the weakest Shout, but takes the shortest amount of time to recharge.
Level 2: Briefly hold, then release the button. Two words. Inhale, then exhale. This is the mid-level shout.
Level 3: Hold the button. Three words. Inhale, inhale, then exhale. This is the highest level shout, and the most powerful, but takes the longest to recharge.
The longer you hold the Shout button, the more powerful the shout. When you bellow a Shout, you drain your Thu’um (Shouting power), which slowly rebuilds across your compass. When the compass changes from a pulsing blue back to its regular grey, you can Shout again.
If you don’t have (or haven’t unlocked) all three Words, holding the button uses the strongest shout you’ve unlocked.